Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Privacy

‘Free World’ Governments Among Worst for Online Spying: Watchdog

PARIS – Shady agencies at the service of democratically elected governments are among the worst online spies in the world, media watchdog RSF said Wednesday, putting them on the same level as offenders in Iran, China and Saudi Arabia.

PARIS – Shady agencies at the service of democratically elected governments are among the worst online spies in the world, media watchdog RSF said Wednesday, putting them on the same level as offenders in Iran, China and Saudi Arabia.

In the latest instalment of the “Enemies of the Internet” report, wholesale spying by “free world” services — much of it exposed by US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — is offered no distinction from the unabashed surveillance carried out by the world’s worst dictatorships.

To RSF, agencies such as the US National Security Agency, Britain’s GCHQ and the Centre for Development Telematics in India embrace the worst methods of snooping in the name of governments that purportedly hold freedom of speech as a national priority.

They have “hacked into the very heart of the Internet” and turned a collective resource “into a weapon in the service of special interests” that flout the “freedom of information, freedom of expression and the right to privacy”.

“The NSA and GCHQ have spied on the communications of millions of citizens including many journalists,” the report by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders) said.

The methods used, many of which NSA contractor Snowden revealed to the world last year before going into hiding in Russia, “are all the more intolerable” because they are then used by authoritarian countries such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia, the report said.

Also singled out by RSF are private companies that provide their most up-to-date powers of snooping at trade fairs that have become giant spying bazaars selling the best that technology can offer.

It is at these shows hosted regularly around the world that profit-driven spy-ware firms link up with government agents or nervous multinationals that are in search of the newest ways to observe and control the Internet.

RSF argued that the censorship carried out by the Enemies of the Internet “would not be possible without the tools developed by the private sector companies to be found at these trade fairs.”

With these tools, spies can track journalists anywhere in the world, RSF said.

Governments keen to impose censorship also help one another.

Iran has asked China to help it develop a local version of the electronic Great Wall that cuts off billions of Chinese from the Internet as seen by the rest of the world. China is active in Africa and central Asia too.

To stop this proliferation of snooping, RSF said a whole new legal framework to govern surveillance was “essential” with states needing to embrace transparency regarding the methods being used.

The fight for human rights, it warned, “had spread to the Internet”.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybercrime

The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Ransomware

US government reminds the public that a reward of up to $10 million is offered for information on cybercriminals, including members of the Hive...

Ransomware

The Hive ransomware website has been seized as part of an operation that involved law enforcement in 10 countries.

Cybercrime

No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.

Cyberwarfare

U.S. fighter jets successfully shot down the high altitude spy balloon launched by and belonging to China.

Cybersecurity Funding

Los Gatos, Calif-based data protection and privacy firm Titaniam has raised $6 million seed funding from Refinery Ventures, with participation from Fusion Fund, Shasta...

Privacy

Meta was fined an additional $5.9 million for violating EU data protection regulations with WhatsApp messaging app.

Privacy

The EU's digital policy chief warned TikTok’s boss that the social media app must fall in line with tough new rules for online platforms...